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The 2009 MF 25

The fittest guys in the world for 2009

Five years ago, Men's Fitness premiered our first MF 25 list. To celebrate the milestone, we opted for a trip around the world. For the first time, the search for the 25 Fittest Guys became borderless, expanding beyond 50 states to all corners of the planet.

Our global superpowers fly through the air, run at superhuman speed, and dodge bullets on the big screen. They stand up to enemy fire in the ring, Octagon, and desert. They even transform themselves from real-life bad guys to heroes. No matter their job titles, these 25 guys (along with some additional picks from the editors of MF's international editions) prove that a hardcore commitment to fitness knows no boundaries.

THE FITTEST GUY

RAFAEL NADAL
Age: 23
Country: Spain
Career: Tennis Player

Why Nadal? Because of those guns, for goodness' sake. Or gun, really. The left one. It's a boulder. A cannon. A WMD. Because of his stamina, his physique. Because of the way he plays, with violence. The way Mike Singletary or Ray Nitschke or Lawrence Taylor would play if they played tennis. Remember the Office Linebacker? He's the Office Tennis Champion. Six Grand Slams. Thirty-three tournament wins. Twenty-three-million dollars in prize winnings. Because he rebuilt his game to become No. 1. No longer just a "clay" guy, he's now a man for all surfaces. A lot of "clay" guys are content to be "clay" guys. Not him. Because of his relentless pursuit of the greatest artist the sport has ever seen. He's the only man on the planet with the will and the way to end the Roger Federer
Era. Because he's been No. 1 for 37 weeks since supplanting Federer in August 2008. Because he wants to stay there. We love that. Because he loves his national soccer team. Loves it with the passion you'd expect from a Spaniard. Loves it like a fan. And seems to love life like a fan. Because he actually pulls off the Capri pants. Or he makes us think he does. Whatever you do, do it confidently. And he does. Because he brought joy back to the sport. He's Ille Nastase. He's Bjorn Borg. He's Jimmy Connors. Without any of their deficiencies. Because of the latest Greatest Match in the History of the Sport, his four-hour, 48-minute victory over Federer in the Wimbledon Finals last summer. It was a convergence of the sport's greatest on its greatest stage. His victory signified a real-time passing of the torch. Because when he wins, we feel drained. And empowered. We feel as if we were there. Or wish we had been. For all those reasons, Rafael Nadal, the best tennis player in the world, is the 2009 Men's Fitness Fittest Guy in the World.

See Also: MF's Exclusive Interview

 

THE BLOCKBUSTER

HUGH JACKMAN
Age: 40
Country: Australia
Career: Actor

One of the most ripped (and badass) actors out there, Jackman performs nearly all of his stunts, including those in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the fourth installment of the series. To prepare, the 6'3" Jackman went to town on the bench and leg press machines. Then, when Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain called for a character with more flexibility, he began daily tai chi and ultimately perfected various yoga poses.

 

THE ACTION FIGURE

ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE
Age: 41
Country: United Kingdom
Career: Actor

To play "Heavy Duty" in the new G.I. Joe film, the British actor had to undergo his own version of basic training. "In four weeks I lost 35 pounds," says Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who worked out with L.A.-based Epoch Training, the same crew responsible for shaping the cast of 300. "I'm thinking, 'Why am I subjecting myself to this punishment? I'm only acting, I'm not a real superhero!'" Through a strict diet and fitness program that emphasized muscle confusion and intense cardio, the former star of Oz and Lost began to feel like a real warrior. "Muscles started popping out where I didn't even know I had them," he says, noting that his character's gun weighed 120 pounds alone. "You see your body changing form like the Hulk and don't even recognize it."

 

THE SLUGGER

JOSH HAMILTON
Age: 28
Country: U.S.A.
Career: MLB Player

A recovering drug addict, Hamilton is finally getting more attention for his actions on the field. The AL leader in RBIs last season with the Texas Rangers, the sweet-swinging outfielder added to his massive 6'4" frame this winter, arriving at spring training weighing 240 pounds thanks to a dedicated off-season program in Arizona. "You see his power, his arm, everything," said teammate David Murphy at the time. "Those are the things that make fans jump out of their seats and say, 'Wow!'"

 

THE LIGHTNING

USAIN BOLT
Age: 22
Country: Jamaica
Career: Sprinter

One year after his gold Pumas set fire to the track at Beijing National Stadium in the 2008 Summer Olympics, the slim (6'5", 190 pounds) speedster is still smoking. Not like fellow gold medalist Michael Phelps. Bolt is only determined to light it up on the track this summer. "The main thing is the championships," Bolt says. "The time doesn't matter if I win." Prep for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin this August included regular sprint workouts and three-day-a-week lifting sessions. "As a sprinter, you don't want bulk, but you try to build your muscles," he says. "When you hit a stage, you kind of tone it up."

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